How I Got the Shot: Dancing Bluets, Sacandaga State Campground

Photograph by Mark Bowie

Title: Dancing bluets, Sacandaga State Campground

Exposure Data: 1.6 seconds, f/36, ISO 100
Nikon D80, Nikkor 105mm macro lens

Caption: These luminous bluets seem to dance with joy amongst lilies and other springtime greenery on a bed of spongy moss. The bluets form a star-shaped pattern, leading your eye from foreground to background, framed by the larger vegetation. To capture them, I attached a dedicated macro lens to my camera, mounted it on a tripod, and lowered the tripod nearly to ground level. Note the many triangular zones within this composition—in both the bluets and the green leaves—and how they contribute to image’s dynamic movement.

Even with a very small aperture (f/36), though the bluets in front are tack sharp, they blur progressively towards the back. When I photographed this scene, the technique of focus stacking had not yet been developed. If it had, with the camera in one position, I may have shot several images at different focus points and combined them in Photoshop for a composite with all flowers in sharp focus. Still, as the flowers recede here, the softening focus implies depth, and the tallest flowers in back add three-dimensional height. To accentuate the framing of the bluets by the larger leaves, I darkened the edges of the image in processing. It focuses attention on the star of the show—the bursting-with-life bluets!

Mark Bowie is a staff instructor with the Adirondack Photography Institute.  He and fellow instructor, Joe LeFevre, will lead the Institute’s Waterfalls and Gorges of Western NY workshop June 5th-8th. Visit for information and for the Institute’s full schedule of events.

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